F O R C O B I A
B Y M A D E L I N E F L A G L E R
Kit Taylor is in the dockside bar at the Bridge Tender,
within sight of the Intracoastal, just across from where the
old Wrightsville Beach Marina used to be. It’s a bright,
warm day in early April, a perfect day to be on the water, or
just to talk fishing — cobia fishing.
There is a real fascination and excitement surrounding the
hunt for this bullet-shaped fish with a shark’s profile. Search
for “cobia stories” on the Internet and there are numerous
choices to explore, from proud faces after a successful day of
fishing to that of a weeping and exhausted young Australian
who lost a long, treacherous fight with one of the fabled fish.
The 116.5-pound cobia caught off the Outer Banks
in 2006 is both the state- and world-record holder in the
80-pound line class. Taylor says that only along the Gulf
Coast of Florida is cobia fishing more popular than in North
About 80 percent of cobia caught along our coast are
taken from mid-May through mid-June, but they are found
here even in the off-season. Wintering in south Florida and
summering as far north as the Chesapeake Bay, cobia follow
the water temperature and the currents. Sometimes the
Cape Fear region has an off year, when the Gulf Stream and
associated currents pull too far east, bypassing us.
Cobia is a desirable fish with a sweet, mild, tender flesh.
Recipes run from elaborate to simple, but it’s delicious any
way you cook it. But it is really known for the sport of
bringing it in.
According to Taylor, the best fishing stories tend to
involve the strong and unpredictable cobia.
“Pound for pound, there’s no tougher fish or one harder to
land,” he says.
The history of cobia fishing since the 1960s at Wrights-ville
may 2021 20
Beach is as interesting as the fish itself and Taylor
provides a front-row seat.
His father and grandfather were both “really good surf
fishermen,” so Taylor started early. When he was a kid in
the ’60s, boats weren’t as prevalent as today. Pier fishing was
the best and easiest way to learn about the sport, dealing
with the variables of water, tides, wind and seasons, and
Top: Kit Taylor, right, displays a haul of cobia caught with a charter custom-er
in 1979 at Wrightsville Marina. Above: Most local anglers were limited to
piers like Johnnie Mercers in the ‘50s.
COURTESY OF KIT TAYLOR
A local fisherman reminisces about one of the state’s best sport fish C asting